Lev/Heart as reflected in the Jewish prayer known as the Shema: home of your intellect, emotions, and discernment and decision-making, integrating body-mind-spirit

There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you? ― Rumi

We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine, or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. — Dalai Lama

Sometimes the love of God is 12 inches from being real, the distance from the head to the heart. — David Ivey

In the Bible, however, heart is not a symbol. It isn’t an internal organ in your body either… Heart is your conscience. It’s the status of your deepest feelings. It’s the truth of who you are. — Sarah Fisher

Which brings us all the way back to the Shema. Every day God’s people are called to devote to God their body and mind, their feelings and desires, their future and their failures. This is what it means to Love the lord your God with all your heart. — The Bible Project

Everybody has all three centers (head, heart, moving) in them… It’s only when you have balanced the three centers—kinesthetic moving center, emotional center, and intellectual center—and integrated them that you become conscious. — Cynthia Bourgeault

SONGS about LEV- HEART

SONGS about HEART

There’s a morning when
presence comes over your soul.

You sing like a rooster
in your earth-colored shape.

Your heart hears and,
no longer frantic,
begins to dance.

At that moment,
soul reaches total emptiness.

Your heart becomes Mary,
miraculously pregnant,
and body like a two-day-old
Jesus says wisdom words.

Now the heart, which is the
source of your loving,
turns to universal light,
and the body picks up
the tempo and elegance
of its motion.

Where Shams-i Tabriz walks
the footprints become notations of music
and holes you fall through into space.

~~ Rumi
 


Blessing for a Whole Heart —Jan Richardson
You think if you could just imagine it,that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision what it would look like,
that would be a step toward a heart made whole.
This blessing is for when you cannot imagine.
This is for when it is difficult to dream of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture, the cleaving
through which has come a life you do not recognize as your own.
When all that inhabits you feels foreign,
your heart made strange  and beating
a broken and unfamiliar cadence,
let there come a word of solace,
 a voice that speaks into the shattering,
reminding you that who you are is here,
every shard somehow holding
the whole of you that you cannot see
but is taking shape even now,
piece joining to piece in an ancient,
remembered rhythm that bears you not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow become unchanged—
but steadily deeper into the heart
of the one who has already
dreamed you complete.

Resources:

LEV-HEART REFLECTIONS

The Hebrew word often translated “heart” is the word lev, לב. Although lev is frequently translated as “heart,” it should be rendered “mind.”  This information is actually very important for accurate reading of many Biblical texts. —Berkowitz, MBT Kids

In the Bible the heart is considered the seat of life or strength. Hence, it means mind, soul, spirit, or one’s entire emotional nature and understanding. The heart also is the primary source of such bad behavior as adultery, hatred, lust, mischief, pride, and rebellion as well as such neutral or good behavior as desire, doubt, fear, gladness, love, obedience, and sorrow. The heart is the organ that is said to have the ability to reason, question, meditate, motivate, and think. All of these mental processes in today’s world are normally associated with one’s mind or brain and not the heart (except metaphorically). God or the Lord is described as being able to know, search, enlighten, open, recreate, examine, strengthen, and establish one’s heart — not the mind. One can have a clean, contrite, perfect, pure, or wise heart, but those qualities are not biblically attributed to the mind. —Dr. Lorence G. Collins

“Heart” does not mean the emotions (though it includes our emotions). It refers to our inner orientation, the core of our being. This kind of “heart” is what Jesus was referring to when he told us to store up treasures in heaven instead of on earth, “for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Matthew 6:21) This is the “heart” Jesus was worried about when he said “from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.” (Matthew 15:19) Jesus observed that our heart can get untethered from our actions: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8) Heart in this sense—the totality of our response—is the concern of the Spiritual Exercises. This is the ancient meaning of “heart” in biblical usage, but we actually retain traces of this meaning in contemporary English. When we say to someone “my heart goes out to you,” we mean something more than a feeling of concern. If said sincerely, it communicates a sense of solidarity with someone. It means more than “I understand” (our intellect). It means more than “I sympathize” (our feelings). It means something like, “I stand with you in this.” It is an expression of a fundamental choice. — David L. Fleming, SJ.

… biblical authors talk about the heart in many other ways that may seem strange to modern readers. That’s because the Israelites had no concept of the brain or any word for it. So they imagined that all of a human’s intellectual activity takes place in the heart. For example, you know with your heart; 5your heart is where you understand and make connections. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom dwells in the heart, and your heart is what you use to discern between truth and error. So the heart is where you think and make sense of the world, but it does more. In the Bible, the heart is also where you feel emotions. You feel pain in your heart,… You also experience fear in your heart… Your heart can even be depressed.But on the flip-side, your heart is where you experience joy. … So the heart is the generator of physical life and also your intellectual and emotional life, but there’s more. In biblical Hebrew the heart is where you make choices motivated by your desires …Your heart is where your affections are centered; they’re called “the desires of your heart,” and if you really want something, you’ll go after it. …So then, in the Bible, the heart is the center of all parts of human existence.— Bible Project

This teaches us that the heart, that the love that it represents, can thrive, can flourish, only when there is a totality in connection. The Jewish heart, true love, represents a mind-to-mind, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, body-to-body, soul-to-soul connection. —Sara Esther Crispe

The Hebrew word for this part of us is “Levar” or “Lev – לב” for short. Although lev is frequently translated as “heart,” it really could also be translated “mind”. This word does not refer to the organ that pumps blood but rather it has Biblical meaning which most often refers to the control center of our lives. Today we might refer to the mind as the place where decisions are made. In the Bible Lev literally means the inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding. It is where we use what we know or understand, where we have thoughts and feelings in order to discern right from wrong. Lev also refers to feelings like joy, sadness, happiness, love. At times we make decisions based on these fleeting parts of us. — Chapel Hill Kids

In Hebrew, the holy language that holds the secret of all creative power, the word “heart” is written לֵב, a lamed (ל) followed by a bet (ב). Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, one of the greatest medieval Kabbalists explained that the word for “heart” in Hebrew, alludes to the physical form of the human heart: two (the numerical value of the letter bet-ב) lamed’s (ל) face-to-face. The Heart Understands Knowledge It is stated in the Midrash (Otiot d’Rabbi Akiva) that the name of the Hebrew letter lamed stands for Lev Meivin Da’at: “the heart that understands knowledge.” The same idea is expressed in the form of the letter lamed (ל), which depicts the aspiration of the heart to ascend to the highest level of consciousness, the understanding of knowledge. Knowledge (da’at) is the power of the soul which forges the connection between man and God, between man and his fellow, and especially between husband and wife… — inner.org

… the mistranslation of Lev as the figurative “heart” is replaced with Mind—the core of our mental reality…

  • a) the non-figurative “lev” never meant the anatomical heart;
  • (b) the figurative use of lev is, first and foremost, as the seat of rational thought, awareness, intent and reflection; and
  • (c) by correcting the mistranslation of lev (replacing the excitable “heart” with the perceptive “mind”) the bible’s fundamental teaching about the soul, prophecy and transformation emerges dazzlingly from the text.

— Ethan Dor-Shav

BODY-MIND-SPIRIT INTEGRATION

Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body. These three centers must all be working, and working in harmony, as the first prerequisite to the Wisdom way of knowing. —Cynthia Bourgeault 

You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. — C.S. Lewis

We see in Jesus that a physical life is a spiritual life. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

The secret of health for both mind and body is…live the present moment wisely and earnestly. — Gautama Buddha

All prayer disciplines are somehow trying to get mind, heart, and body to work as one, which entirely changes one’s consciousness. “The concentration of attention in the heart—this is the starting point of  all true prayer,” wrote St.Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894,) a Russian monk, bishop, and mystic. Apart from Love, any other “handler” of your experience, including the rational mind or merely intellectual theology, eventually distorts and destroys the beauty and healing power of Wisdom. — Fr. Richard Rohr

You need the practice of mindfulness to bring your mind back to the body and establish yourself in the moment. If you are fully present, you need only make a step or take a breath in order to enter the kingdom of God. And once you have the kingdom, you don’t need to run after objects of your craving, like power, fame, sensual pleasure, and so on. Peace is possible. Happiness is possible. And this practice is simple enough for everyone to do. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether you are sick or well, lovely or irregular, there comes a time when it is vitally important to your spiritual health to drop your clothes, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Here I am. This is the body-like-no-other that my life has shaped. I live here. This is my soul’s address. After you have taken a good look around, you may decide that there is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered.  — Barbara Brown Taylor

The main concept behind the mind-body-spirit connection is that we are all more than just our thoughts. We are also our bodies, our emotions, and our spirituality … all these things combine to give us identity, determine our health, and make us who we are. — Cooper University

What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world. ― Barbara Brown Taylor

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. — William Blake

Our ‘ministry’ is Word and Sacrament —everything else flows from that. We see a need, we fill it. We f*** up, we say sorry. We ask for grace and prayers when we need them (a lot). Jesus shows up for us through each other. We eat, we pray, we sing, we fall, we get up, repeat. Not that complicated. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber

Brene Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living are as follows:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity and Letting Go of What Other People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion and Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating Your Resilient Spirit, Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy, Letting go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith, Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity and Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest, Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness and Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work, Letting Go of Self-Doubt and Supposed-To
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance. And Letting Go of Cool and Always in Control

Each guidepost is like a coin with two sides. On one side, it shares what to cultivate. And on the other, it instructs what to let go of. The two work hand-in-hand.

More info: https://mindfulambition.net/wholehearted-living/

Ahava / Love as reflected in Jewish prayer known as Shema

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
—Henry David Thoreau

The first two of these commandments —
love for God and love for our fellow humans —
are actualized through mitzvot, a system that shapes ideals
into behavior and is deepened through communal norms.
— Joanna Samuels

Love God. Love God with everything you are: heart, mind, soul, strength. Love God with your life. — Kathryn M. Schifferdecker,
SONGS about AHAVA/LOVE
Ahava by Yonina (ballad): https://youtu.be/XqDH6RH5jas
Love/Ahava by Daniel Jawahar (Indian pop Christian): https://youtu.be/x11r5-7ciQs
Ahavat Olam performed by Platt Brothers (Hebrew worship): https://youtu.be/1yhk_obX7CQ
Ahava by Liran Notik (pop): https://youtu.be/mVKAwm3uaqs
Love Ahava by Everything Worship (Christian): https://youtu.be/Xy50VuvdYqM
Ahava Ka’zo (A Love Like This) by Idan Raichel (pop ballad): https://youtu.be/zkyorHkaJUA
Shir Ahava Bedui (A Bedouin Love Song) by David Broza (folk rock): https://youtu.be/z5mCVtcc8Hg
Some Love / Kama Ahava by Kobi Peretz (pop): https://youtu.be/XkpdFicK5As
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) performed by The Voice of One Calling (Hebrew/Arabic Christian): https://youtu.be/ZHW0uTpzsCM
Shema by Misha Goetz & Shae Wilbur (Jewish contemporary): https://youtu.be/81HSXFtYMRs
Shir Ahava (Love Song) performed by David Seguin (Hebrew Christian worship): https://youtu.be/UEX83Irhag4

SONGS about LOVE
Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane (rock): https://youtu.be/5Jj3wZVc7nw
All You Need is Love by The Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/_7xMfIp-irg
I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton (country): https://youtu.be/lKsQR72HY0s
Love Is All performed by Playing for Change children’s choir (pop anthem): https://youtu.be/q4T37EaW4eU
Lean on Me by Bill Withers (rock): https://youtu.be/qkaexjc-1os
What’s Love Got to Do with It? by Tina Turner (rock): https://youtu.be/oGpFcHTxjZs
Vision of Love by Mariah Carey (pop ballad): https://youtu.be/tov22NtCMC4
The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/jkjXr9SrzQE
That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/l7T9HKmERv0
I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin: https://youtu.be/7Ifw8JhDBvs
Cheek to Cheek by Ella Fitzgerald (ballad): https://youtu.be/GeisCvjwBMo
It Had to be You by Harry Conick Jr (jazz): https://youtu.be/_UnQOfPwZfs

Love Is the Most Ancient Law: A Blessing  — Jan Richardson
Open to it and you will know
how love is its own blessing
and most ancient of laws.
Pursue it entirely
with everything in you—
your heart (all)
your soul (all)
your mind (all).
Spend it all—
this love so generous
this love that goes out
to each it finds
this love that gives itself
in lavish and unimagined measure
everywhere and to all—
yourself not least.
Resources:
* Ahava / Love by the Bible Project (animated video): https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/ahavah-love/
* Agape / Love by the Bible Project (animated video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slyevQ1LW7A
AHAVA REFLECTIONS

The greatest commandment is to love God and the best way I know to love God is to love what God loves—which is everything! Surely this is the way that Jesus loves. To love as Jesus loves, we too must be connected to the Source of love. … If you don’t live from within your own center of connection and communion with God, you’ll go spinning around many other things. The true goal of all religion is to lead you back to the place where everything is one, to the experience of radical unity with all of humanity and all of creation, and hence to the experience of unity with God, who is the Great Includer of all else…  — Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation, https://cac.org/radical-simplicity-2020-06-29/

Love God. Love God with everything you are: heart, soul, strength. Love God with your life (perhaps a better translation than “soul,” since Israel didn’t conceive of a disembodied soul). Many scholars would say that “love” here is not primarily an emotion. They point to examples of political treaties known from the ancient Near East. To “love” one’s sovereign in these ancient political covenants was to be loyal to him … Such ancient political treaties are undoubtedly in the background of this passage. To “love” God as one would “love” a human sovereign entails primarily action, not emotion. To love is to be faithful and loyal in fulfilling the obligations of the covenant … Still, there is another realm of life in which the language of love and covenant abounds. The metaphor of marriage, though not as explicit in Deuteronomy as in other biblical books, provides a central biblical paradigm for understanding the relationship of God and Israel. —   Kathryn M. Schifferdecker, https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-31-2/commentary-on-deuteronomy-61-9

The laws are made for us, not us for the laws… We do not serve a distant God, but one who actually cares about how you treat people and how you are treated. People matter. Relationships matter. The dignity of human beings matters. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

The ancient Hebrew word “ahava” that is often translated as “love” in the Bible has a unique meaning too.  Sadly, this amazing Hebrew word is hidden behind the nonchalant English term that everyone uses for everything. Love or “ahava” in the Hebraic mind is very different in today’s culture. In the Hebrew, love is connected directly with action and obedience. Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary defines ahava as “to have affection, sexually or otherwise, love, like, to befriend, to be intimate.”  It brings to mind the idea of longing for or breathing for another. Hebraically ahava is a verb and a noun, it is an act of doing. Ahava is not just a feeling. To get a clear understanding of ahava, let’s examine the Hebrew word itself and learn how to love Hebraically. — Daniel Rendelman, https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Hebrew-Word-Study–Ahavah.html?soid=1101268607427&aid=aDzDQxelEmk

Ahava: This is Commitment Love. It is a ferocious love. We describe this as the, I’m-not-going anywhere kind of love. It is when you say, “I know that I’ll mess up, but you’ll still be there for me” kind of love.” It is not, “I will be with you for as long as you make me feel good, but once you are dull, mean, rude or old then see you later.” This is the primary kind of love that God has for his children. Ahava anchors you down to the one you love. — Charles Schuman, https://www.fortgordonnews.com/articles/true-definition-of-love-given-by-god/

Whereas other biblical nouns and verbs convey a particular type of love, such as ion (hesed) which often designates kindness and loyalty, or p^n (hesheq), which denotes desire or passion, nnx (ahv, verb) is employed in a wide variety of social, political, and spiritual contexts. Ahv and ahavah (noun) occur over 200 times in biblical narratives and poetry. They convey notions of attachment, passion, affection, preference, loyalty, and yearning. https://what-when-how.com/love-in-world-religions/ahavah/

Taken together the command to love God with all our heart, soul, and might seems clearly to encompass every aspect of our being as well as all of our exertions of energy. All of our lives, all of our identity. And all of our actions. All of who we are, our gifts, our capacities to act. And not just a portion, a slice. All. Every last capacity. No part of our lives is to be segmented apart from full devotion to God, to obey and follow His precepts. This is the path to the greatest blessing … God will not compel their love. True love requires choice. Coerced relationship is abuse. God is love. With the clear direction of what path is in their best interest, God provides freedom. Freedom is the ability to choose …
https://thebiblesays.com/commentary/deut/deut-6/deuteronomy-64-5/

One Today — Richard Blanco
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello / shalom,
buon giorno / howdy / namaste / or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together

AHAVA: Meditations on Holy Love & Human Love

Ahava Love is the risky, vulnerable, uninsured act of donatng what I prize most. Me. — Steven Daugherty

Love is unselfishly choosing for another’s good. — CS Lewis

The only way I know how to teach anyone to love God, and how I myself can love God, is to love what God loves, which is everything and everyone, including you and including me! — Fr. Richard Rohr

… according to Ahava, the woman described in Proverbs 31 is not some ideal that exists out there; she is present in each one of us when we do even the smallest things with valor. ― Rachel Held Evans

What was new and remarkable in the Bible was the idea that love, not just fairness, is the driving principle of the moral life. – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

As we perform these acts of love, they form in us a new memory — not of our vulnerability or nostalgia, but of our capacity to act. These mitzvot of love will become, we hope, as familiar as our established mitzvot already are. They hold open the invitation, always, for depth, intention, and truth.— Joanna Samuels
le’ehov ze klum, lihiot ne’ehav ze mashehu, aval le’ehov velihiot ne’ehav ze hakol לאהוב זה כלום. להיות נאהב זה משהו. אבל לאהוב ולהיות נאהב זה הכל. To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved is everything. — Saying in Hebrew, unattributed

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Fr  Richard Rohr
ahava hi kmo ruach, yi efshar lirot ota, akh nitan lehargish ota אהבה היא כמו רוח, אי אפשר לראות אותה, אך ניתן להרגיש אותה. Love is like the wind, you can’t see it, but you can feel it. — Saying in Hebrew, unattributed

We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family. ― Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The first element of true love is loving kindness. The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Jesus has loved his followers so that they may love each other. Love calls for love in turn. Love makes love imperative. — Allen Dwight Callahan

And only when we see ourselves and others as Jesus’ friends is it possible to love with the heart of God. … then all other competing claims about who we are simply melt away. You are no longer male or female, Jew or Greek, gay or straight, urban or suburban, republican or democrat, rich or poor you are simply the one whom Jesus loves. You are the beloved disciple. You are the one whom Jesus has called friend. And this unchangeable and unassailable identity you have as the one whom Jesus loves is the basis by which you too are afforded the honor of being loved by others as Jesus’ Friend. For you are who Christ chose and named as such. And nothing else gets to tell you who you are. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Every morning, my father and I would get up early and say the prayers. Today, when I say these prayers, I wonder how I could have said that then? It was hypocrisy. It was a lie to say there that our God is a God of mercy. There is a sentence, Ahava rabbah Ahavtainu, with great love You have loved us; what great love You have given us and You loved us, and Your compassion was not only great but excessive. There? Yet we said it. — Eli Wiesel, Night, holocaust survivor

We continue to live in a fractured world filled with sinat hinam (baseless hatred), which each of us has an individual responsibility to counter with ahavat hinam (baseless love). The first step to repairing the world is for more of us to re-imagine it, particularly in relating to the other. Through acceptance, respect, and love, we invite the other in to share a safe space where we can become our best selves together. — Rabbi Yehoshua Looks

… abounding with ahava and shalom, love and peace, and a year made complete by the purpose to serve one another in joy. — Rabbi Max Miller

Sometimes the love of God is 12 inches from being real, the distance from the head to the heart. — David Ivey

… When I came to the Buddhist article in that issue of Parabola, I was struck by how similar to ‘agape’ is the word ‘metta’ from the ancient Pali language of India. The author, the Buddhist monk, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, said the closest he could come to an English translation of ‘metta’ is ‘loving-kindness.’ … — Bob West

Christ’s message is one of pure love.  Loving for the sick, the poor, the oppressed that is what we are called to do … Christ has commanded us to show this love to every single human being on this planet.
… Our goal must be to, as Pope Francis has said, be a field hospital for those in a battle that rages all around us. The battle goes on in the form of war, famine, poverty, persecution, and it is our job to show the love of Christ to those afflicted. We are to walk alongside those who are walking down rough pathways in their lives…. Instead, we must have as a first goal to love and help each individual on earth …  — Devan, religion student, Emory and Henry College

I Did Think, Let’s Go About This Slowly
— Mary Oliver

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.

This is important. This should take

some really deep thought. We should take

small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.

Reflections on Memorial Day: those who serve & sacrifice, those who work for peace

Only the dead have seen the end of war. — Plato

This is the day we pay homage to all those who didn’t come home … it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom. — Tamra Bolton

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. — Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. — Mark Twain

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. — Adlai Stevenson

Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion. — Gandhi

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons (and daughters) of God, and our brothers (and sisters) wait eagerly for our response. — Martin Luther King

Memorial Day Prayer —Carl Schenck
We gather on a somber holiday.
We remember with sadness those we have loved and lost.
Let us not glorify the conflicts and violence
that tear our loved ones from us.
Let us, rather, give glory to God,
who calls us to use our freedom peaceably.
Our God is a God of all nations and peoples.
May our worship of God unite rather than divide.

Songs for Memorial Day Weekend

Film Clips

Protest & Peace Songs:


Memorial Day (excerpt)— Michael Anania … We know the stories that are told,
by starts and stops, by bent men at strange joy
regarding the precise enactments of their own
gesturing. And among the women there will be
a naming of families, a counting off, an ordering …


Peace — Langston Hughes
We passed their graves:
The dead men there,
Winners or losers,
Did not care.
In the dark
They could not see
Who had gained
The victory.


Who kept the faith and fought the fight;
The glory theirs, the duty ours.
— Wallace Bruce


You silent tents of green,
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Notes on Memorial Day (excerpt) Lillian Daniel

Memorial Day began after the Civil War as an effort toward reconciliation between the families of veterans in the North and the South. After the war, there was already a tradition in the North of decorating soldiers’ graves, called “Decoration Day.” But in 1868 an organization of Northern war veterans decreed it ought to be a national holiday. May 30 was carefully chosen as the date because it was not the anniversary of a specific battle, and therefore would be a neutral date for both sides. But human beings hold on to their wounds, and reconciliation takes time, grace and mercy…

Memorializing Rightly (excerpt) — Debra Dean Murphy

… much of our memorializing will trend, as it always does, toward … the simplistic, the cliche-riddled hyperpatriotism that does a disservice to the women and men who fight and die in wars conceived by powerful men … Surely it’s possible to honor the selflessness that’s part of soldiering and to mourn the fallen without slipping into the kind of sentimental white-washing that denies the complexities and ambiguities, the compromises and betrayals, both large and small, that the war dead knew well? Why, then, can’t we–in their stead, on their behalf, for their sake–be honest enough to honor such truths? … May we remember and memorialize … all deaths, this day and every day, with the truth-telling they deserve.

On Those Who Serve & Sacrifice

Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history. — Mary Roach

It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. — Gandhi

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. — Winston Churchill

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. — G.K. Chesteron

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.  — Joseph Campbell

Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise
that every human life is of inestimable value. — Bishop Desmond Tutu

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived. — George S. Patton

Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well. — Jennifer Granholm

Work for what you believe in, but pick your battles, and don’t burn your bridges. Don’t be afraid to take charge, think about what you want, then do the work, but then enjoy what makes you happy, bring along your crew, have a sense of humor. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. — Harry Truman

Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have
and all that they are. — Hafsat Abiola

It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. – General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! – Maya Angelou

I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it. ― Wangari Maathai

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. — John F Kennedy

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. — Gandhi

Peace Workers

On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live. — Eric Burdon

One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world. ― Malala Yousafzai

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. — Nelson Mandela

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. —John F. Kennedy

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. — Eleanor Roosevelt

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace. — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. — Henri Nouwen

We must pursue peaceful ends by peaceful means. I’m committed to nonviolence absolutely … I will continue to preach and teach it… I plan to stand by nonviolence. …(because) only a refusal to hate or kill can put an end to the chain of violence in the world and lead toward community where people live together without fear. — Martin Luther King

Today, we are truly a global family. What happens in one part of the world may affect us all. This, of course, is not only true of the negative things that happen, but is equally valid for the positive developments. … But war or peace; the destruction or the protection of nature; the violation or promotion of human rights and democratic freedoms; poverty or material well-being; the lack of moral and spiritual values or their existence and development; and the breakdown or development of human understanding, are not isolated phenomena that can be analysed and tackled independently of one another. In fact, they are very much interrelated at all levels and need to be approached with that understanding…  Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each one of us individually. Peace, for example, starts with each one of us. — Dalai Lama

When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict. And when you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict.
And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue. — Dolores Huerta

The answer lies in the last word of the priestly blessing: shalom, peace. In a long analysis the 15th century Spanish Jewish commentator Rabbi Isaac Arama explains that shalom does not mean merely the absence of war or strife. It means completeness, perfection, the harmonious working of a complex system, integrated diversity, a state in which everything is in its proper place and all is at one with the physical and ethical laws governing the universe. — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Violence and nonviolence agree that suffering can be a very powerful social force. But there is a difference. Violence says suffering can be a powerful social force by inflicting it on somebody else, so this is what we do in war… The nonviolent say that suffering becomes a powerful social force when you willingly accept the violence on yourself, so that self-suffering stands at the center of the nonviolent movement… There is no easy way to create a world where people can live together… but if such a world is created…it will be accomplished by persons who have the language to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflicting suffering on others… Unearned suffering is redemptive. — Martin Luther King
 

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